My daughter couldn’t be more excited for the holidays. Together we’ve started decorating our home, a big red bow on our door, Christmas lights adorn our entertainment center, and Christmas carols help us get ready in the morning. A crucial piece of the holidays is the presence of her co-parent, who isn’t my biggest fan. Being involved in a high-conflict co-parenting relationship during the holidays isn’t always so fun. It often causes headaches and additional stress – and who really needs any additional stress at this time of year? Taking the high road to co-parenting during the holidays can be really tough, and requires you to stop thinking so much about yourself, and more about your child’s happiness.
During the season of joy and happiness, I spend a lot of time thinking about how best to communicate with my co-parent during the holidays. I find it hard to swallow my immense dislike for his usual unreliability and disrespect and assume he’ll play more a role in our daughter’s like during the holidays. But I try—for our daughter. For awhile I really thought the love of my family could blanket her heart with all the love she would ever need. I completely disregarded her father’s side of the family, every last one, based on her grandfather’s behavior and our continuously rocky relationship. I didn’t take into account the love they all shared for our daughter, and held them all accountable for her father’s behavior. Our daughter is amazing, and no I’m not just saying that because I’m her mom. There is something so wonderful about being in her presence, in seeing her smile, in being part of her warmth. She is lucky to have so many people who love her and want to spend time with her. And since I love her more than I dislike them, I take the high road during the holidays.
So how does one take the high road? First things first – communication. I’ll text, call, or email my co-parent until I get a response. And once he realized I’m not calling to argue, the conversation generally goes pretty well. While we have set visitation schedule, during the holidays I make exceptions which allow her to spend additional time with her dad and his family. What I realized with my co-parent is that he felt I was so full of rage that he wouldn’t ask for additional time during the holidays for fear of being immediately shut down. While I make the effort to communicate and provide additional opportunities for them to spend time together I am also very painstakingly aware not to have unrealistic expectations. He may not respond. He may not utilize spending extra time with her. He may not buy her presents. This is a risk you take when you take the high road, others may not join you there, and it’s something you have to be fully prepared for, or else you’ll be even more upset.
Tips on co-parenting during the holidays:
- Allow the co-parent to have time with your child during the holidays
- Keep the lines of communication open, even if the other co-parent does not
- No tit for tat actions. Do what is best for the child
- Set realistic expectations for you and your child
- Take the high road. Your child will benefit from seeing this behavior
Co-parenting is tough, but can be even more so during the holidays. I hope sharing my story helps you. Happy holidays!